Time: 75min: 30min prep, 45 min baking
I love everything about apple crisp. The tangy tartness of the apples, the sweet buttery crumb of the crisp, the syrupy sauce that only forms in the careful slow baking of pectin, sugar, and a little flour. My grandmother used to put rhubarb in it, which I love even more, but sadly it’s December and I have long since used up my stash of frozen stalks. However, not to worry, because it is the season of liquid gold (maple syrup) so we will give it a staring role in this dish.
A fruit crisp is a great way to bring a taste of summer into the long winter months. It works great with fresh or thawed frozen fruit, and it’s a super quick desert to make.
Since I love everything about apple crisp and also have a slightly unhealthy addiction to browned butter, I decided that it would probably be heaven to combine the two. Tyler brought home a cooler full of crisp, tiny apples of unknown variety from work and I needed to use them quickly as they are not waxed. I do not hold their anonymity against them though for they are super crunchy, sweet, and delicious. If you don’t have awesome anonymous apples, Gala works nicely here.
This is the first dessert I made without a recipe. It took me several tries to get it the way I envisioned it, so we ate apple crisp for a week and one of them was completely inedible. It is now, honestly, art. The best crisp I’ve ever had, it’s frequently requested by my family. I am dying for July fresh peaches so I can try them too. I’m not a super sweet dessert person, I like buttery sweet/salt combinations and my preferences are discernible in this recipe. It works best in a small deep dish 1.5 quart casserole dish. If using an 8×8 you need to double the recipe and use a deep pan.
You Will Need:
- 1/2 cup butter
- enough apples to fill your dish. About 7.
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup oats (rolled or quick, whatever you have will work)
- 1/2 tsp salt
This magic happens in a slow 350 degree oven. Preheat now.
First, Brown the Butter! You could skip this step.. if you wanted to… you would be CRAZY.. but you could. But don’t. So, brown the butter. Put a whole stick, or half a cup, into a small sauce pan over medium low heat. On my burn-o-matic stove, it’s really low, but for you, it should be about the temperature that you use for pancakes. DO NOT DESERT YOUR BUTTER! For it happens quickly. The butter will melt and turn a sunny yellow colour, foam and darken slowly, then the magic happens. The butter solids separate and brown, turning your butter into something the colour of: well, brown. It will smell nutty, the solids will be sitting at the bottom. Brown as much as you dare… don’t burn it. Burned butter is bitter and not yummy at all. As always, taste it to make sure. It should taste slightly salty and caramely. If it’s bitter, you broke the rule, deserted it, and it’s burnt. Start over. Remove from heat immediately, transfer to a small bowl to halt the cooking process and put in the freezer to harden while you finish prepping. You want to be able to cut it into the crumble instead of just pouring it on.
Peel the Apples: If you have a peeler, by all means use it. I do. Because I hate peeling apples almost as much as I hate doing dishes. I used 7 small apples, but you want to fill your pan nearly to the top. Slice thinly and top with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning. Place in a 1.5 quart baking dish, and toss with 1 tbsp of flour. Add enough maple syrup to coat. About 1/4 of a cup. Toss and level the apples in the pan.
Make the Crumble: In a medium bowl, combine:
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
Then add the brown butter, using a pastry blender to combine the butter with the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture forms. If it got too hard in the freezer feel free to soften it for a few seconds in the microwave but you want it cold. Don’t melt it. Try not to eat it.
Assemble and Bake: Double check to make sure your oven is preheated to 350F. Spoon the crumble on top of the apples and press down lightly. Pop in the oven and bake for 45 min. Your sauce should be starting to bubble up around the edges and the top should be golden brown. Serve warm as a dessert, add cream, or be brave like me and put it on a pancake so you can call it breakfast. Because, well there’s fruit and syrup and why wouldn’t you?
Other Ideas: Please leave a comment and let me know how this worked for you. Feel free to change, create, and inspire. My only advice is don’t try granola… I did, and it would have been lovely, but raisins can only take so much punishment and 45 min on top of a crisp exposed to the heat was more than their shriveled skins could take. I’ve also tried raisins in with the apples, fantastic, and dried cranberries. Also fantastic. Use what you have available and create something delicious to share.